Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cure for what ails you

Adulting is terrible and I want no more of it.

But I got to see my pony!  That makes so many things better.

I don't know if it really counts as a training update, but we've gone back to doing very long and low to build up the base of his neck.  The muscles he needs to lift up for the canter-walk-canter transitions need a bit more work and we're spending about fifteen minutes each ride encouraging him to trot and canter around with his nose around his knees and his back in a nice bow.  He's not really a fan, it's hard work!  It's so much easier to fling his head up and use that to get his shoulders up.  But we're getting results.

It's been far too long since I posted a shot of his progress.


Just look at that neck.  It's going the right way!

Overall I think he looks great, especially for coming out of the dead of winter.  It should be all downhill from here with warmer weather making it easier to go for conditioning rides and giving him all of the work and variety he needs.

But goodness me does he look like a dressage horse.  He didn't really ride like one today, he was kind of pissy about our latest cold snap.  Not that I blame him, I'm kind of pissy about the whole thing myself.  I shouldn't have to get his heavy out at the end of March.

But the first show of the season is in sight, less than a month away.  I better start practicing those First level tests.  Here's to hoping he still knows how to do a lead change through the trot.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Blog Hop: What makes you, you?

First time doing a blog hop of my very own!

This is in tribute to all of the quirks and shenanigans that bloggers are famous for and gives everyone a shot to really document what defines their unique flavor of horse crazy.

What makes someone at the barn (or your trainer) think of you immediately?

For me?  People immediately think of me when they see three things:

1.  Blingy browbands

Part of my collection

Yeah, I have a calling card, and it's having blinged out browbands that I change to match my horse's outfit.  I'm not ashamed.  He feels very pretty with his tiaras.

2.  Treats

The usual staples found in my locker

Everyone knows I always have a treat available if they need it.  I usually have several kinds of treats stashed in my locker with a policy that they're free for the grabbing for my fellow boarders or anyone that rides Theo.  You must pay the pony his dues.

3.  Intentionally doing things that make the trainer say 'get out of my ring'

Yeah, I did that.  All of that.  And the hearts saddle pad.  Every time someone sees something that's just outrageously over the top, I get a message on FB with a link and the expectation that poor Trainer A will be subjected to it in the near future.

So blogosphere, what makes you, you?  Post a link in the comments and I'll add you to the list of fame!

Saturday, March 18, 2017


I might be expanding Theo's circle of friends a bit.  My friend that's been sharing Theo with me in her lessons is interested in a quarter lease on him.  She'd ride him in one lesson and one free ride a week.  She'd also have the option to do some shows.  She wants to do 18" hunters and Intro/Training level dressage.  This came up after Trainer A watched her canter all the way around the ring, completely focusing on herself, and Theo marching along like a trooper.  They were both content, relaxed, and having a good time. 

My friend did get a bit of a caution since she found Theo's second gear today.  She usually keeps Theo in first gear (plopping pony) since she rides with no spurs, no whip, and no real desire to get after him.  In her canter work, she was working on pushing more with her seat and less with her legs.  That's how I ride my canter so when she got it, he shifted gears.  Nothing dirty, just lifted his shoulders up and stretched out.  She enjoyed it, but Trainer A suggested she stay in second and not try for third just yet.  Third is a lot of pony.  I love third gear, but I'm weird.

So what was I doing while she was cantering around my saint of a horse?  I was riding my new paint friend, Buddy.

It's a rare horse that I actually call by name, but with a name like Buddy, what else do you need?  Buddy is very handsome, super smart, and can be a bit of trouble.  He's a former western pleasure horse that joined the lesson program when I bought Theo.  He was actually purchased using the funds from Theo and he took on the students that needed a w/t/c horse.  He's got super smooth gaits, is solid on the trails, and though he's just started jumping with me, he's figuring it out fast and is good with his shoulders.

The problem with being a smart horse is that they learn bad things as quickly as they learn good things.  His canter was never very strong and he had some bad rides that left him with a bucking canter depart.  It's kind of alarming watching him fling himself into a racing, downhill canter with some bucks thrown in.  And then he starts racing around at the trot, trying to canter in every corner.  Ugh.  Beginners freak and stop asking, so he wins.  He doesn't have to canter if he acts up like that.  I think he was feeling fresh one cold day and figured out that he could be scary.  So Trainer A has been throwing some advanced riders on him, including me, to straighten that out.

The bucking to start has been easy enough.  I lift my hands up high enough to almost shove the reins up my nose during the transition.  He's not agile enough to bronc with his head up.  After a couple of transitions where he had no choice but to be a gentleman, he got the idea and I could start bringing my hands back down.  The other trick was to show him that he can in fact go around a corner without falling on his face, panicking, and racing.  The first couple of half halts weren't pretty, but he's so darn smart.  He figured it out on our second pass and settled in to a quiet rhythm.  We ended with him calmly stepping into his canter, going around the ring twice with a quiet, steady rhythm, and then trotting when told.  I jumped off of him, shoved a cookie in his mouth, and called it a day.

He's a smart boy, he'll remember that.  I never give Buddy treats because his leaser spoils him rotten and his ground manners can be terrible.  It's a good thing he's so handsome and really quite sweet because man oh man, the smart ones are such pains in the butt!

And I found out Baby Pony is being leased by my copilot starting next month!  He hit the jackpot!  They'll be flying around at three phases this summer, I'm certain.  She really wants to be an eventer and Baby Pony is everything sensible and steady.  After jumping him through some grids and feeling for myself how clever he is with his feet, I think they'll be a match made in heaven.  I'm so happy for the both of them.

All of this reminds me that show season is just around the corner.  Everyone is picking out their dance partners for the summer.  I went shopping at the tack shop and the show stuff is out while the winter stuff is on clearance.  YES!

We're getting more snow tonight.  NOOOOOOOOOO!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Gone ponying

Adulting is dumb.  Between the snow and the job hunting, I missed out on seeing my pony for most of the week.  Not that he minded since we had a cold snap and he was bundled up in his heavy.  Some days it's better to just leave him to his own devices.

Today I blew out of work early and headed out to the barn.  It was about 40*, sunny, and glorious. 

I have a policy of not pushing Theo after several days off, so it was just trotting around for the most part.  A lot of walking, some cantering, popped over some cross rails when a lesson finished using them because mi papi was completely convinced they were for him.  He got excited and pricked his ears every time they were reset.

Then we cuddled and I got all of the itchy spots that he can't reach under his heavy blankets.  He's finally shedding and we had a pretty good pile of fuzz.  I also treated his mane with MTG to encourage it to grow back in.  He's really thin in the mane from about the middle of his neck back.  I'm pretty sure his neck rug is rubbing out his mane.  It didn't do that last year, but last year, he didn't have that bulge of muscle in front of his withers.  Oh, the price of a developing topline.

So long as the weather is decent, I'll let him go out with a naked neck and try to preserve what's left of his mane. He appreciated my choice.

Even with all of the extra grooming, I must have missed some spots.  He wallowed and dug his bare neck into the snow.  Probably managed to rub out all of the chemicals I'd just used on him.  Thanks, papi.

Yes, that's about 20" of snow in his field from our Tuesday blizzard.  It's been cold enough that there's been very little melt.  We're supposed to have another system this weekend.  And just when we were able to see half of the outdoor and had started considering riding outside.

Tomorrow morning we have a makeup lesson from the blizzard.  I'm banning myself from doing any adulting this weekend.  It's all about brunches and shopping and quality time at the barn.  I've had enough stress to start eyeballing Theo's ulcer supplements.  I need to unwind this weekend.  Unwind = tack cleaning and locker clean out and pony cuddles.  I might have to try another trail ride in the snow.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Cross over

I take back what I said about equestrian fashion never being acceptable for life outside the barn.  I'm prepping for a video interview and needed a coat.  What did I grab?

Yes, that is my spiffy new RJ Classics dressage frock.  For a video interview where they won't even see my jeans, it's perfect.  It's stretchy, it's comfy, it's a conservative color.  It's way more comfy than my actual blazers.  So yes, I am interviewing with a big company for a senior manager role wearing my dressage coat.

Equestrian chic.  I'm doing it right.  I hope.  Now lets work on my voice holding out for the full 45 minutes and the blizzard not disrupting my connection at a crucial moment.

Adulting sucks.  I want to go pony.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Bomb proof

Another day, another bombproofing clinic.

After our first two sessions, no one really expected Theo to react to anything.  He barely flinched at everything that had been brought out before.  But I saw the pool noodles going up and I saw the pole with streamers being propped up on the wall and knew that Theo wasn't going to have as easy of a day.

Sure enough, he wanted NOTHING to do with the cowboy curtain.  He was introduced to it in hand and was fine with the streamers.  Tried to eat them and everything.  But go underneath?  Um, no, he can just go around, thank you very much.  It took a lot of pressure and convincing and waving the lead rope at his butt.

Mistake on me:  Do not try to force Theo to step under something.  Just wait until he gets bored and does it on his own.  Driving him forward put him in ugly Theo mode and for most of the group, it was something they hadn't seen before.  He was biting the air and snapping at his lead rope he was so angry.  Once I finally managed to drive him underneath it, he bolted through and got loose.  He made it one half lap before the clinican stepped in front of him and he came to a very prompt halt.   Someone had been naughty.  I led him through a couple of times but he made it very dramatic and was pissed off.

But after I got on?  No big deal at all.  I'm pretty sure he just didn't think he could fit while I was leading him, it was a narrow opening.  His shoulder hit me each time he passed through.  It's the same thing I see horses do when loading on a trailer and they don't want to trample their human.  They won't get on if you're standing in their spot.  But once I was on his back?  Plenty of room, no need to bolt through it like a lunatic.

He's such a weird horse.  We also walked through the pool noodles touching his belly, worked around a popping open umbrella, and jumped a big pile of flowers.  Oh, and tried to steal the squeaky dog toy.

After our success over the three sessions, my group decided that we want to keep going and our clinician will be back to do an advanced series for us.  Empty water bottles!  Helium balloons!  Cap guns!  Because clearly, this is the kind of training every dressage horse needs.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Real life

I've been scarce for a single, simple reason:  For the first time in nine years, I'm job hunting.  It's really quite scary and it's even worse when you've got an all consuming hobby like horses.  How do you explain to your potential management that you have something like a child, but he's about one thousand pounds?

Things at work went in a less than best case way, so my resume has been winging it's way around the state.  The good news is that I got some hits.  Today I talked to two companies, Monday I talk to a third.  For the two I've talked to, I get to move on past the HR gatekeepers.  Yay?  I'll just keep my fingers crossed that I continue on to the point where I need to dress up nice.  I need to buy a new suit for interviews.

But papi continues to march on as steady as a drum.  We're working on developing a big trot to go with his big canter.  He's not entirely sure he enjoys this new level of expectation when he trots, but he's getting on board.  We've been hopping over a lot of little jumps to keep him engaged as the weather continues to act in a demented manner.  50* one day, 0* another, we just can't keep up.

I've been trying to keep my work drama away from the barn, since a certain someone does not cooperate with me deciding I should take control of something.

He's been very patient with my frazzled attention.  He ignores me in alien mode and happily accepts the cookies that come with my apologies when I realize I'm taking my frustrations and turning them into unrealistic expectations of our rides.  My rides are my therapy and with stress levels running this high, therapy is essential.

I just want this chaos to be done all ready.  I can't plan on a show season when I don't know if/where I'll be working!  So inconsiderate of these companies to mess with my show schedule.